This article is part 3 of a 5 part series on the resurrection.
Christ appeared to the apostles and restored their hope. He set their hearts in the right direction once again. Christ self-disclosure was like balm on their wounds and brought peace and jubilation back into their hearts and renewed their ailing faith.
Keep in mind that while Christ appeared to His disciples, no less than 11 different times, it was not personal faith that caused the sudden change in their attitudes. Rather it was the undeniable presence of Christ to so many on so many different occasions that produced in them that personal assurance that He had indeed returned from the dead and is truly the Son of God! The fact of the resurrection superimposed itself on their weak faith. Previous to Christ appearances they had lost hope. Now their risen Savior eating, talking, performing miracles, appearing suddenly and disappearing, the inescapable reality is that Jesus had risen and that there is no other possible conclusion that can be formulated. Christ had appealed to all their senses so that their souls were overwhelmed with joy. Only the self-disclosure of Christ would suffice to restore their failing hearts.
Read the text carefully from Mat.28:2 and discover for yourself that the stone and the earthquake happened simultaneously as a sign pointing to a great event, a sign to indicate that something truly amazing had occurred. The indisputable conclusion is that Jesus had already risen and that the shaking of the earth and the rolling of the stone pointed to this remarkable feat.
Yet, even with these amazing signs, it was absolutely needful for Christ to appear among them in order to defuse their doubts. Even though inanimate objects and forces of nature gave witness to the truth of the resurrection, it was Christ appearance to his followers that finally convinced them of the indisputable truth of the Resurrection.
This article is part 2 of a 5 part series on the resurrection.
A Christian has been called to unite with other believers to expand His Kingdom and build His Church. Had the apostles not focused so much of their attention on a first century theocratic physical kingdom they may not have been so easily distracted from identifying with their mission. Jesus clearly taught about the Church throughout his ministry where he informed his disciples about the necessity of His death and resurrection without which the birth of the church could not be possible. Keep in mind both his death and resurrection are often spoken of as one single event.
While today, the danger often is on what we want to believe about what the gospel represents and not what Jesus actually taught —- the early disciples experienced this same pitfall. What dominated their thinking was this notion that the kingdom was to happen on earth in their lifetime where all the followers of Christ would share in a physical, political and earthly kingdom in which all their enemies would be subjected to their rule, which happened to be the Romans at that time. However, any subjugation that Jesus spoke of had to do with the heart, where He would come and reign in those who would respond to His call and obey His gospel. So far different from being an external kingdom, God`s rule instead has a spiritual and internal design in view. The apostles were slow to comprehend this essential matter. Disarray and disillusionment filled their hearts when Christ died from crucifixion. Their spirits were largely in tatters over His death and any aspirations for a sovereign ruled commonwealth died along with it. What could be worse for them than to have their hopes crushed by what seemingly appeared to be empty promises and the loss of their beloved Teacher?
For us who may have experienced that same kind of dark hole where trust seems to be in a free-fall, if we actually look close enough we may discover that our condition is not the result of unfulfilled promises at all but largely due to misconceptions about the gospel. For God remains truthful to His Word. Any who seek a proper diagnosis should not begin with our inner selves or our feelings. Many self-inflicted wounds are the results of too much self-introspection. By looking inward you may never find the answer unless you wish to see the real you, a sinner in need of a Savior, out of which God will be pleased to point you to your need for repentance and faith in His Son for the remedy. But if all you do is find fault with the world around us, you will find much to blame and yet never get any closer to the core of the problem. The Gospel message may not always appeal to our senses and may even be upsetting, but that is where you will find relief from your sins. So be confident in this that where God`s Word is obeyed comfort for the soul is certain, if we are willing to listen to Him. God commands — we listen and we follow. It is something akin to the sheep following the shepherd where dependence is needful for survival. But at times the Believer may choose not to listen to the clear commands of the Chief Shepherd, and wishes to find pastor in another field seemingly because indifferences toward His leading may have developed. Sometimes for the Believer it appears that God is not paying attention to his personal needs and that may even distract him from what the real issue is all about. It is not the basics of life that we lack today but we may want as much as what our neighbor has, and at times that may mean more than what is needed. The promises of God are not bargaining chips to be pulled out and exchanged for something we think that we deserve either. Any assurances that are given to us from Scripture must be first understood and then applied according to its intended purpose. Christ promised the apostles that He would resurrect and that His kingdom would be established along the lines that he had taught them, not in the way that they had imagined it. Our difficulty like that of the apostles is that we do not always understand Christ teachings in their context, even the more descriptive passages that appear plain enough are misconstrued or bent to our lickings. Our problem lies in the fact that too many of us do not spend enough time reading the Bible and thinking it through for our minds to develop a Biblical perspective on life, so that whenever issues surface and they certainly will, the Christian response will be consistent with God`s Will. Each experience will bring about an opportunity for growth. Somewhere along the way just like the apostles had become doubtful and loss their way until Christ came to them, Believers too can experience the same and are in need to hear Christ by turning to the Scriptures. (Part 3 in two weeks).